Populism

The Italian populist government is voluntarily heading towards the next political crisis (and it may have the upper hand)

The Italian populist government is voluntarily heading towards the next political crisis (and it may have the upper hand)

It is often assumed that once ‘populist’ parties sting (achieve a political breakthrough), they are likely to wither away and die. Valerio Alfonso Bruno and James F. Downes argue that this is not happening in Italy. They outline how its populist government, led by the Five Star Movement (M5S) and the League (Lega), may be ‘strategically’ leading the country into another political crisis that will enable them to retain the upper hand in Italian politics.

Radical right success and mainstream parties’ anti-immigrant policy shifts

Radical right success and mainstream parties’ anti-immigrant policy shifts

Radical right parties have seen increasing electoral success throughout Europe. What does this imply for parties and party systems? Do established mainstream parties adjust their policy positions in response to successful radical right parties? If yes, is this ‘contagious effect’ restricted to specific party families or is this an overall trend within European politics? Tarik Abou-Chadi and Werner Krause investigate these questions and find that mainstream parties adjust their policy strategies when confronted with a successful radical right challenger and shift toward more anti-immigrant positions. Using a novel research design, they can demonstrate that these shifts are not just a response to changing public opinion but can be causally attributed to the success of the radical right.

Does democratic discontent foster support for challenger parties?

Does democratic discontent foster support for challenger parties?

Established parties across Europe are being challenged by the growth in new parties on the left and right. To assess the extent to which support for challenger parties is a result of dissatisfaction with existing democratic practices, Enrique Hernández has developed a model to distinguish different forms of democratic discontent. He finds that the specific focus of a voter’s democratic discontent shapes their support for these parties, and that this varies between left- and right-wing challenger parties.

Understanding populism: what role do crises play in the growth of Euroscepticism?

Understanding populism: what role do crises play in the growth of Euroscepticism?

Three distinct crises have hit the European Union in the last decade: the Great Recession, the migration crisis and Brexit. As Andrea L. P. Pirro explains, there has been a widespread assumption that populist parties with Eurosceptic profiles have been the main political beneficiaries from these crises. But there still remains much to be understood about what populists make out of such crises, as well as their impact on Euroscepticism.

Collateral damage or a direct hit? Democratic ideals in the age of Trump

Collateral damage or a direct hit? Democratic ideals in the age of Trump

How robust are American democratic institutions under Trump’s presidency? Jennifer Earl argues that, even if his actions and lies do not amount to a coordinated effort to undermine democracy, the effect will be to systematically weaken the institutions of US democracy in the long term.

Is Twitter a populist paradise?

Is Twitter a populist paradise?

A prominent social media presence is typically seen as critical to the success of populist politicians. However, Kristof Jacobs and Niels Spierings find that in the key case of the Netherlands, populist politicians were slower to adopt Twitter and engage with fewer people on it, seemingly preferring instead to stick to their own echo chamber.

On the affinities (and differences) between populism and a belief in conspiracy theories

On the affinities (and differences) between populism and a belief in conspiracy theories

Populist rhetorics and conspiracy theories share common traits: both portray a manipulative and secretive elite that govern in their own self-interest. Bruno Castanho Silva, Federico Vegetti and Levente Littvay find that belief in particular forms of conspiracy, though not all, go hand in hand with populist attitudes, which has implications for political trust.

Nativists are populists and not liberals

Nativists are populists and not liberals

Along with the growth of populist and anti-system parties there has been an explosion in academic research on how to categorise them. Ben Margulies argues that there is not a simple dichotomy between liberalism and populism. Since liberalism requires a commitment to a full range of principles, such as universal rights and anti-racism, nativist parties are also not liberals, even if they sometimes defend their policies with reference to liberal norms.

What makes nativists and populists distinct?  

What makes nativists and populists distinct?  

With the growth of insurgent political parties that challenge the status quo, scholars are presented with a dilemma about how to categorise them. Takis S Pappas argues that nativist and populist parties are two distinct categories, and offers a set of criteria for classification.

Populism may well be inevitable in democracies, but it is also the cause of democratic disenchantment

Populism may well be inevitable in democracies, but it is also the cause of democratic disenchantment

Much has been written about populism and its move to the mainstream. Stephane Wolton and Carlo Prato argue that it has arisen, not so much from democratic dissatisfaction but from voters’ demands for reform, which leads politicians to engage opportunistically in a form of populism by campaigning on reformist agendas regardless of their ability to successfully carry them out.